Independents providing LTC could face challenges under newly proposed CMS regulations

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — According to the National Community Pharmacists Association, changes governing long-term care facilities that recently were proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services could create turmoil for independent community pharmacies providing LTC services, the association stated in a release Wednesday.

"In response to inadequate data and the alleged wrongdoing by one national, LTC pharmacy corporation, CMS has suggested requiring all LTC facilities to contract solely with consultant pharmacists who have no affiliations to any in-facility LTC pharmacy, pharmaceutical manufacturer or drug wholesaler," the association stated.

A November 2011 survey of NCPA members supported the concerns expressed in NCPA’s comments. Namely, respondents indicated that 80% of the LTC facilities that they serve are in rural areas. Further, most pharmacists surveyed said that, in the communities that their LTC pharmacies serve, there already is a shortage of consultant pharmacists, which NCPA argued would become worse under CMS’ proposal.

In addition, the overwhelming majority of respondents asserted that CMS’ proposed requirement would be detrimental to LTC facilities’ efficiencies, continuity of care, timeliness of care and services, as well as communication between healthcare providers.

If CMS ultimately decides to implement such changes, the agency should delay the effective date past the proposed Jan. 1, 2013, date, NCPA added. That’s because another significant regulatory requirement — that LTC pharmacies dispense certain high-cost drugs in shorter, 14-day (or less) cycles — also is set to take effect on that date.